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Historic battles on Westport’s giant chess board

Make a move on Westport’s chess board

Áine Ryan

OLD adversaries, Grainne Mhaol and Queen Elizabeth have met centuries after their first notorious encounter.  This time round though it is on a giant chessboard, Westport’s latest unusual attraction.
The Open Air Chess Board (Chess Saor Amuigh Faoin Spéir), located in the atmospheric and busy Market Lane, was officially launched at the weekend by chess champion and author of the very first chess book as gaeilge, Úna O Boyle.
The first of its kind in Ireland, the giant hand-crafted chess board and pieces will be available daily to the public from 10 to 5pm.
The beautiful chess pieces, which stand two foot tall and are made from Irish Oak and Douglas Fir, were handcrafted by Craobh Eo woodturners. Designed by DLMDesign the pieces have a distinctive local interest.
The two queens represent local pirate queen Gráinne Mhaol and her powerful adversary Queen Elizabeth I. They had a famous standoff in London during the sixteenth century. The rooks are designed to characterise Gráinne’s Rockfleet Castle, which is situated near Newport. Each chess piece is inscribed with its name as Gaeilge.

The unique initiative was undertaken by Market Lane Business Association, with local support  and in partnership with Gnó Mhaigh Eo, Brawn’s Flowers, DLM Design and Craobh Eo Woodturners.